Beatrice Explains the Moon and the Universe, Dante's Divine Comedy, Rectangular Pillow

Regular price $29.00 Sale

In these scenes from Dante Aligheri’s 14th-century poem, the Divine Comedy, Beatrice explains the moon and the universe to Dante — one scene on each side of this pillow.

The pillow measures 20 x 12 inches. The fabric is pre-shrunk polyester — soft and durable, with a moisture-resistant coating. The pillowcase is machine washable, with a concealed zipper. The resilient polyester filling insert retains its shape, and can be washed by hand. Made in USA.

Beatrice's Explanations

Beatrice tells Dante that the universe is a hierarchy of beings. She says that heaven is comprised of nine spheres ruled by love. 

A commentary from the University of Texas has a great full description of Beatrice's explanation of the dark spots on the moon, and her takedown of Dante's pet scientific theory, and sums her answer up thus: 

The uniform divine power, distributed among the stars, is unfolded and multiplied down through the heavens. The compounds formed from different powers joined to different planetary bodies then display varying luminosity not only among the stars but also within the Moon (and presumably the other planetary bodies as well).

The Divine Comedy

Dante’s journey through the World of the Dead was entertaining, but not that funny – so why is it called a comedy? Because the poem ends with Dante experiencing a vision of God — that’s the mix of happy ending and Godly influence that qualified as a comedy in those days. In fact, Dante originally called it just Comedy, but a later editor changed it to “Divine Comedy”, I guess so people didn’t get the wrong idea.

These gorgeous and inventive illuminations of the Divine Comedy were produced between 1444 and 1450 — more than a century after Dante wrote it. The work was split between two artists: Priamo della Quercia took Hell and Purgatory, while the more well-known Giovanni di Paoli di Grazia illustrated Heaven.

The book originally belonged to Alfonso V, king of Aragon, Naples, and Sicily. His great-grandson, Ferdinand, Duke of Calabria, donated it to a convent in Valencia in 1538. In 1901, it was bought by Henry Yates Thompson, who donated it to the British Museum in 1941.

Dante’s companion through hell and purgatory is the Roman poet Virgil. But Virgil is a pagan, so cannot enter paradise. Thereafter, Dante is accompanied by Beatrice, based on a girl he met when she was nine years old and fell instantly in love with. He saw her again only once more, nine years later — she was a banker’s daughter and married to another banker — but she was a huge influence on Dante, as his muse.

The Divine Comedy is over 14,000 lines long, and very intricately constructed. To see the original poem, and translations, and commentary, and context, visit the delightful site Digital Dante, from the Columbia University Center for Digital Research and Scholarship.


Original art for Beatrice Explains the Moon.

Original art for Beatrice Explains the Universe.

Thanks to the Public Domain Review and the British Museum for making these pixels accessible for public use.

See more items on Anomaly Panoply that feature Dante-related art.